things to do in siem reap besides temples

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Things to Do in Siem Reap Besides Temples

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Siem Reap, Cambodia, is a popular destination known for its iconic temples, such as Angkor Wat and Bayon. However, there is much more to explore beyond these architectural wonders. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture with traditional arts, sample the mouth-watering Khmer cuisine, or enjoy outdoor activities amidst stunning natural landscapes. With so many attractions to choose from, tourists are never short of options in Siem Reap.

Key Takeaways

  • Siem Reap offers a plethora of non-temple activities and attractions.
  • Visitors can explore the cultural gems, sample the local cuisine, unwind with outdoor activities, and discover the floating villages.
  • The city also boasts national parks, historical sites, museums, and options for relaxation and wellness.
  • Engaging in local experiences, such as community-based tourism and volunteering, provides opportunities to connect with the local community and contribute to sustainable initiatives.

Explore the Cultural Gems

Siem Reap is not only famous for its temples but also for its rich cultural experiences. Visitors can explore the traditional Cambodian arts, including visiting local markets, attending Apsara dance performances, and exploring the Cambodian arts scene.

The Phare, the Cambodian Circus, is an impressive live performance that incorporates theater, music, dance, acrobatics, and circus arts. The troupe of performers is composed of disadvantaged youth who have been trained by professional artists.

Activity Description
Apsara Dance Performances The traditional Khmer dance is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see when visiting Cambodia. Apsara dance is performed by dancers wearing intricate costumes and unique makeup, telling stories of mythical creatures and ancient legends.
Artisans Angkor The Artisans Angkor workshops are a great place to witness traditional Cambodian arts, including wood carving, stone carving, silk painting, and silver plating. Visitors can also purchase handcrafted souvenirs and support the local economy.
Night Markets The Angkor Night Market and the Siem Reap Night Market are popular spots to explore the local culture, food, and handicrafts. Visitors can taste traditional Cambodian dishes, shop for souvenirs, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the markets.

Another unique cultural experience is visiting the Preah Khan Temple, which has been taken over by banyan trees for centuries. It’s a surreal experience, walking through the temple ruins overtaken by nature.

Siem Reap cultural experiences

Sample the Local Cuisine

Siem Reap is a food lover’s paradise, offering a tantalizing array of traditional Khmer dishes, street food markets, and popular restaurants serving regional delicacies. The local cuisine is heavily influenced by neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Thailand, with a unique Cambodian twist that reflects the country’s cultural heritage.

One of the best ways to sample the local cuisine is to explore the street food markets, where vendors sell an array of dishes such as fish amok, a traditional Khmer curry made with coconut milk, lemongrass, and galangal. Other popular dishes include lok lak, a succulent beef stir-fry served with rice and a tangy lime and pepper dipping sauce, and kuy teav, a flavorful noodle soup with pork, fish, or beef.

If you prefer a more upscale dining experience, Siem Reap has plenty of options to choose from. Many restaurants offer a fusion of Cambodian and international cuisine, featuring fresh seafood, locally sourced vegetables, and flavorful spices. Don’t miss the chance to try one of Cambodia’s national dishes, such as the num banh chok, a refreshing rice noodle dish served with fish-based green curry and fresh herbs.

Siem Reap Food

For those interested in learning about the local cuisine and cooking techniques, Siem Reap also offers a variety of cooking classes where participants can learn to make traditional Khmer dishes. These classes are usually held at local restaurants or in private homes, providing a hands-on experience that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture.

Whether you’re sampling street food, dining in a restaurant, or learning to cook traditional dishes, Siem Reap’s local cuisine is a must-try for any food lover visiting the city.

Unwind with Outdoor Activities

Siem Reap is not just famous for its temples, but also for its natural beauty. Visitors looking to enjoy the great outdoors will find plenty of options for outdoor activities.

Cycling Tours

One of the best ways to explore the countryside around Siem Reap is on a cycling tour. Visitors can rent bicycles and take guided tours that take them through rice paddies, small villages, and past scenic landscapes.

Duration Price Availability
Half-day $25-$40 Year-round
Full-day $35-$60 Year-round

Boat Cruises on Tonle Sap Lake

Tonle Sap Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, and a boat ride on the lake is a must-do experience for visitors to Siem Reap. Visitors can take a boat cruise to visit the floating villages on the lake, or simply enjoy the scenic beauty of the water and surrounding landscape.

Outdoor activities Siem Reap

Exploring the Countryside

For those looking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Siem Reap’s countryside, there are plenty of options. Visitors can take guided tours that take them through lush jungles, past scenic waterfalls, or explore rural villages where they can learn about local life.

Whatever your outdoor activity preferences, Siem Reap has something to offer for everyone.

Discover the Floating Villages

Siem Reap’s floating villages are a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the region. Located on the Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, these communities offer a glimpse into the traditional way of life of the Khmer people and the ecological significance of the area.

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The floating villages are home to a unique community that lives entirely on the water, with houses, schools, and markets all built on stilts. Visitors can take a boat tour to explore these villages, interact with locals and observe their daily activities, such as fishing and weaving.

Siem Reap Floating Villages

Aside from meeting the locals, visitors can also learn about the environmental challenges faced by these communities. The Tonle Sap Lake is a crucial ecosystem that supports a wide range of wildlife, including many endangered species. The floating villages are directly impacted by issues such as water pollution and drought, which threaten their livelihoods and the natural balance of the ecosystem.

Many tour operators in Siem Reap offer boat tours to the floating villages, and visitors can choose from a range of options, including half-day or full-day tours, private or group tours, and tours that combine the floating villages with other nearby attractions. A visit to the floating villages is an unforgettable experience and an opportunity to learn more about Cambodia’s rich culture and history.

Visit Art and Craft Workshops

Siem Reap is a hub for traditional Cambodian arts and crafts, offering hands-on experiences for visitors to learn about the country’s rich artistic heritage. From silk weaving to pottery making, visitors can participate in a range of traditional activities and even take home their own creations.

One of the must-visit workshops is the Artisans Angkor, a social business that promotes the development of Cambodian arts and crafts. The workshop employs local artisans and offers guided tours where visitors can witness the various stages of silk production, from harvesting the cocoons to weaving the fabric.

Workshop Specialty
Theam’s House Painting
Khmer Ceramics Centre Pottery making
Angkor Handicraft Association Stone carving

Other notable art and craft workshops include Theam’s House for painting lessons and the Khmer Ceramics Centre for pottery making. Visitors can also explore the Angkor Handicraft Association, which specializes in traditional stone carving.

For a unique experience, visitors can try their hand at shadow puppet making at Phare Ponleu Selpak, an NGO that supports Cambodian arts and culture through education and outreach programs.

Whether visitors want to create their own souvenirs or simply immerse themselves in Cambodian arts and crafts, Siem Reap’s art and craft workshops offer a range of experiences that cater to all interests.

Siem Reap art workshops

Explore Siem Reap’s Nightlife

Siem Reap’s nightlife scene offers something for everyone, from laid-back bars to bustling night markets and live music venues. One of the most popular spots is Pub Street, where locals and tourists gather to enjoy the evening’s festivities.

For those looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, Siem Reap has a variety of rooftop bars, offering stunning views of the city, along with delicious cocktails and light bites. The Miss Wong Cocktail Bar is a favorite among visitors, with its 1920s Shanghai-inspired decor and extensive list of drinks.

The night markets in Siem Reap are a must-visit, offering a vibrant atmosphere with a variety of stalls selling local handicrafts, souvenirs, and street food. The Angkor Night Market and the Made in Cambodia Market are two of the most popular markets, showcasing the best of Cambodian craftsmanship and culinary delights.

For music lovers, there are plenty of live music venues in Siem Reap, such as the Hard Rock Cafe, the Temple Club, and the Yellow Submarine. These venues offer a mix of local and international musicians, playing everything from rock to traditional Cambodian music.

No matter what your preferences are, Siem Reap’s nightlife scene is sure to impress. So, put on your dancing shoes and get ready to experience the city after dark!

Siem Reap Nightlife

Explore the Great Outdoors

Siem Reap is not only renowned for its ancient temples but also for its natural beauty. Tourists who visit Siem Reap can explore the great outdoors by participating in numerous outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and bird watching. The region boasts a variety of natural wonders, national parks, and scenic trails that cater to nature enthusiasts.

Phnom Kulen National Park is a popular destination for hiking and trekking, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscapes and waterfalls. The park is also home to ancient temples and carvings, providing visitors with an opportunity to explore Cambodia’s rich history while appreciating its natural beauty.

Another attraction is the Kulen Mountains, located about 50 km north of Angkor Wat. The mountains are a popular spot for hiking and trekking, with various trails offering different levels of difficulty. Tourists can discover hidden waterfalls, explore ancient ruins, and even visit a sacred Buddhist site.

outdoor activities in Siem Reap

In addition to hiking and trekking, tourists can also enjoy boat trips down the Tonle Sap Lake, where they can witness the local fishing villages and the ecological significance of the lake. Visitors can also participate in bird watching tours, which offer a glimpse of Cambodia’s diverse bird species.

Overall, Siem Reap’s natural beauty is unparalleled, offering visitors a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of modern life and immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature.

Delve into Siem Reap’s History

Siem Reap is renowned for its historical significance, particularly during the Angkor era of the Khmer Empire. The region is home to numerous archaeological sites, ancient temples and ruins that offer a glimpse into Cambodia’s glorious past. Visitors can explore these sites and immerse themselves in the rich cultural history of the country.

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One of the most iconic landmarks in Siem Reap is the Angkor Wat Temple Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest religious monument in the world. The complex features a series of temples, including the Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, and Banteay Srei, all showcasing the intricate architecture and exquisite carvings of the Khmer Empire.

Historical Sites in Siem Reap Description
Angkor Wat The largest religious monument in the world, showcasing the impressive architecture and intricate carvings of the Khmer Empire.
Angkor Thom A former capital city of the Khmer Empire and home to the iconic Bayon Temple with its many smiling faces.
Ta Prohm A temple complex left in its natural state, with trees and vines intermingling with the ruins, offering a unique and mysterious atmosphere.
Banteay Srei A unique temple made of pink sandstone, featuring intricate carvings and well-preserved artwork.

Aside from these iconic landmarks, visitors can also explore other historical sites such as the Roluos Temple Group, Preah Khan, and Neak Pean, each with its unique history and architectural style.

Overall, Siem Reap’s rich history provides visitors with a unique opportunity to explore the cultural heritage of Cambodia and learn about the glorious past of the Khmer Empire.

Delve into Siem Reap's History

Relaxation and Wellness

Siem Reap offers visitors a chance to unwind and rejuvenate with its many luxurious spas, yoga retreats, and meditation centers. Whether you seek solitude or prefer group activities, there are options available to cater to individual preferences.

Indulge in full-body massages and beauty treatments at one of Siem Reap’s many spas, such as the Jaya Spa or the Temple Leaf Spa and Resort. Both offer a range of treatments, including hot stone massages, facials, and body scrubs.

Experience the calming effects of yoga or meditation at one of Siem Reap’s yoga studios, such as the Hariharalaya Yoga and Meditation Retreat or the Shanti Yoga Ashram. These centers offer classes for all levels, from beginner to advanced, and have knowledgeable instructors who can guide you through your practice.

For a more immersive wellness experience, consider a stay at one of Siem Reap’s wellness retreats, such as the Navutu Dreams Resort and Wellness Retreat or the Hariharalaya Yoga and Meditation Retreat. These centers offer a range of activities, including yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and healthy cooking classes, providing visitors with a holistic approach to relaxation and wellness.

Relaxation and Wellness

Whatever your preference, Siem Reap’s relaxation and wellness options can help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Explore Siem Reap’s Markets

Siem Reap is a bustling hub of markets, offering visitors a chance to experience the vibrant atmosphere of Cambodian market culture. There are numerous markets scattered throughout the city, each with its own unique character and offerings.

One of the most popular markets is the Old Market (Phsar Chas), located in the heart of Siem Reap. Here, visitors can browse stalls selling everything from fresh produce and spices to souvenirs and handicrafts.

Siem Reap market

For a more authentic experience, head to Psar Leu Market, located just outside the city center. This sprawling market offers a glimpse into daily life in Cambodia, with vendors selling everything from clothing and electronics to fresh meat and seafood.

Another market worth visiting is the Angkor Night Market, open late into the evening. Here, visitors can stroll through the rows of stalls selling handmade souvenirs, jewelry, and clothing while enjoying live music and street performances.

Whether searching for unique souvenirs or simply soaking up the local atmosphere, Siem Reap’s markets provide a colorful and unforgettable experience.

Visit Siem Reap’s Museums

Siem Reap is known for its rich cultural history and heritage, which is reflected in the numerous museums scattered across the city. Visitors can delve into the country’s past, traditions, and customs through the collections of artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays.

The Angkor National Museum is a must-visit for those interested in the famous Angkor era. It houses over 8,000 pieces of ancient artifacts that showcase the history and culture of the Khmer Empire. The exhibitions are thoughtfully curated, highlighting various themes such as religion, royalty, and daily life in the empire.

Another popular museum is the Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Center, which tells the story of the country’s tragic past, including the devastating effects of landmines. The museum also serves as a relief center for landmine victims and offers educational programs for visitors to learn about the dangers of landmines and the efforts to eradicate them.

The War Museum Cambodia is another fascinating museum that showcases the country’s complex history, specifically the Khmer Rouge regime and its impact on the country. The museum displays military equipment and vehicles used during the war, as well as personal accounts and photographs of the conflict.

For those interested in contemporary art, the McDermott Gallery and the Artisans Angkor Silk Farm and Workshop offer a glimpse into Cambodia’s thriving arts scene. The McDermott Gallery features modern works of art by both Cambodian and international artists, while the Artisans Angkor Silk Farm and Workshop allows visitors to witness the traditional silk weaving process and purchase handmade textiles.

Visiting Siem Reap’s museums is an excellent way to gain a deeper understanding of the country’s history and culture. With such a wide variety of museums available, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

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Siem Reap Museums

Engage in Local Experiences

To truly experience Siem Reap’s unique culture, visitors should engage in local experiences, such as village visits, community-based tourism, and volunteering. These activities provide opportunities to connect with the local community, learn about traditional practices, and contribute to sustainable initiatives.

Community-based tourism is an excellent way to learn about Cambodian culture while supporting local businesses. Visitors can stay in homestays, eat traditional Khmer food, and participate in activities like cooking classes, fishing, or rice planting. These experiences provide an insight into the daily lives of local people and allow visitors to contribute to the community’s economic development.

Volunteering is also an option for visitors who wish to make a positive impact during their trip. Siem Reap has several organizations that offer volunteering opportunities, such as teaching English or working on community projects. These activities provide a meaningful experience while supporting local initiatives.

Another way to engage in local experiences is by visiting traditional villages such as Kampong Phluk or Kompong Khleang. Visitors can take a boat ride through the floating villages, learn about the local way of life, and participate in activities like making handicrafts or weaving silk.

By engaging in local experiences, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of Cambodian culture and contribute to sustainable tourism practices that benefit local communities.

Siem Reap village visit
Experience the local way of life by visiting traditional villages near Siem Reap. Image source:


Siem Reap is a treasure trove of cultural experiences, local cuisine, outdoor adventures, and historical sites, offering visitors a glimpse into Cambodia’s rich heritage and natural beauty beyond the temples. From exploring the floating villages and national parks to indulging in the vibrant nightlife and relaxation options, there is something for everyone in Siem Reap.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the local art and craft workshops, sample traditional Khmer dishes, and engage in community-based tourism to connect with the local community. Whether it’s a voyage of discovery or a journey of rejuvenation, Siem Reap has it all.

So, go ahead and plan your trip to Siem Reap to explore the many wonders that this city has to offer. Whether it’s a family vacation, a solo adventure, or a romantic getaway, Siem Reap promises to be an unforgettable destination for all.


What are some non-temple activities to do in Siem Reap?

Siem Reap offers a wide range of activities beyond temples. Visitors can explore the cultural gems, sample the local cuisine, engage in outdoor activities, visit floating villages, participate in art and craft workshops, experience the vibrant nightlife, explore national parks, delve into the region’s history, indulge in relaxation and wellness, explore local markets, visit museums, and engage in local experiences.

What cultural experiences can I explore in Siem Reap?

Siem Reap offers cultural experiences such as visiting traditional markets, attending Apsara dance performances, and exploring the Cambodian arts scene.

What is the local cuisine like in Siem Reap?

Siem Reap boasts a rich culinary scene with traditional Khmer dishes, street food markets, and popular restaurants serving regional delicacies.

What outdoor activities are available in Siem Reap?

Siem Reap offers outdoor activities such as cycling tours, boat cruises along Tonle Sap Lake, and exploring the countryside’s natural beauty.

What are the floating villages near Siem Reap?

The floating villages near Siem Reap provide a unique experience where visitors can observe the local way of life and appreciate the ecological significance of the Tonle Sap Lake.

Are there any art and craft workshops in Siem Reap?

Siem Reap is home to art and craft workshops where visitors can participate in traditional activities like silk weaving, pottery making, or painting and learn about Cambodia’s rich artistic heritage.

What is the nightlife like in Siem Reap?

Siem Reap offers a vibrant nightlife scene with popular bars, live music venues, night markets, and the famous Pub Street where tourists and locals gather to enjoy the evening.

Are there any national parks or natural wonders near Siem Reap?

Yes, Siem Reap is surrounded by national parks and natural wonders, including Phnom Kulen National Park and the Kulen Mountains, offering opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and exploring ancient ruins.

What historical sites are there to explore in Siem Reap?

Siem Reap has a rich history associated with the Angkor era and the Khmer Empire. Visitors can explore historical sites and ruins that offer glimpses into the region’s glorious past.

Can I find relaxation and wellness options in Siem Reap?

Siem Reap provides relaxation and wellness options such as luxurious spas, yoga retreats, and meditation centers, offering visitors opportunities to unwind and rejuvenate.

Are there any local markets to explore in Siem Reap?

Siem Reap boasts local markets where visitors can shop for souvenirs, handicrafts, textiles, and local products, immersing themselves in the vibrant atmosphere of Cambodian market culture.

Are there any museums in Siem Reap?

Siem Reap houses museums showcasing the cultural history and heritage of Cambodia through artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the country’s past.

Can I engage in local experiences in Siem Reap?

Yes, Siem Reap offers opportunities for engaging in local experiences such as village visits, community-based tourism, and volunteering, allowing visitors to connect with the local community and contribute to sustainable initiatives.

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